Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dave Eggers loves us enough to write. Okay, that may be strong, but he does want to "buck us up." Pretty cool, yes? Yes.

You may recall that we were quite taken with Dave Eggers offer to "buck-up" anyone feeling down by the current state of books and book love. You may also recall that we said we would write him and ask to be "bucked-up" and then report his response to you. Well, you will be happy to know that we kept up our end of the deal and he did as well. Fairly cool, we think, and while we are not going to share the entirety of the response here, or anywhere really, here is an excerpt:

Dear Person Needing Bucking Up,

Hello and thank you so much for writing. I feel honored that you would take the time to reach out and in many cases tell me your very real struggles with writing and work and the future of the printed word.

I have a few thoughts to share, though unfortunately in this space I can't detail all the reasons I think we have a fighting chance at keeping newspapers and books alive in physical form. But before I do blather for a few paragraphs, I should apologize for sending you a mass email.

As you probably know, in May I gave a speech to about 100 people in New York, and I didn't foresee it getting out there on the web. (Shows how much I know.) And I really didn't expect this email address to be given out.

Again, though, that was my lack of foresight. And I'm an infrequent emailer, so I'm unable to respond to most of the (plaintive, beautiful, heart-ripping) emails that have been sent to me these past few days. So I apologize for not being able to answer your email personally. Or at least not in any timely manner.

Anyway. I would like to say to you good print-loving people that for every dire bit of news there is out there, there is also some good news, too. The main gist of my (rambling) speech at the Author's Guild was that because I work with kids in San Francisco, I see every day that their enthusiasm for the printed word is no different from that of kids from any other era.

Reports that no one reads anymore, especially young people, are greatly overstated and almost always factually lacking. I've written about youth readership elsewhere, but to reiterate: sales of young adult books are actually up. Total volume of all book sales is actually up. Kids get the same things out of books that they have before. Reading in elementary schools and middle schools is no different than any other time. We have work to do with keeping high schoolers reading, but then again, I meet every week with 15 high schoolers in San Francisco, and all we do is read (literary magazines, books, journals, websites, everything) in the process of putting together the Best American Nonrequired Reading. And I have to say these students, 14 to 18 years old, are far better read and more astute than I was at their age, and there are a million other kids around the country just like them.

As we said, fairly cool yes? Way. Long live the Eggers.

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